Eliminating Online Reader Comments: feedback

On Jan. 15, Prescott Newspapers, Inc. discontinued the practice of allowing comments on stories published on its three news websites.

In a front page story we listed reasons why we made the change.

These included: research about maintaining news integrity, wiser use of newsroom staff time, and restoring a tone of civility to the websites. The story also revealed that the same 15 or 20 people accounted for up to 80 percent of the comments on a website that averages 250,000 unique visitors each month.

Our editor team felt this was not a true reflection of community voice, especially when the vast majority of commenters posted anonymously.

Immediately, we received feedback both for and against the move.

Gratitude was expressed from many readers who were fed up with the often mean-spirited insults or bigotry posted by nameless users.

Others claimed our decision was part of a larger conspiracy to silence public opinion and take away First Amendment Rights.

Open discussions about our stories will continue on our social media pages, but we will close this chapter with a sample collection of the feedback we received.


Our readers speak . . . GLAD THEY’RE GONE

My wife and I have lived in Prescott since 2000, read the paper online regularly, and are ecstatic with the new policy regarding reader comments. To quote an old advertising slogan for syrup: “Aunt Jemima, what took you so long?”

Gary Sanderson

Cheers to you. I agree with your decision to discontinue comments on news stories. Your reasons are solid, especially the notion that your staff have better things to do than moderate comments. There are Facebook groups where people can make their comments.

Don Cheek

I am so glad your news agency has decided to eliminate the comments section of your articles! I have lived in the Prescott area for four years and have sometimes read the comments. In general those statements have portrayed the area In a very negative manner. The writer of the article raised my awareness to the fact that it adds too much work to your staff, work not necessary. You are right, it is just a handful of individuals with too much time on their hands and a great need for attention. Thank you to all who came to this decision.

Sincerely,

Pat Benedict

Agree that too many posted comments were long on venom and short on constructive substance. Hope you will go one more step and eliminate Trump related letters - both pro and con - until the end of April (roughly 100 days past his inauguration). The new president deserves a honeymoon and many of us need a break from all the relatively extreme politics that is still going on.

Thanks,

Bill Sonsin

Thank you! It is about time that people understand that expressing one’s OPINION does not make something fact and that fact is discovered only through substantive research from a variety of sources that support authentication. Just like FB, too many people have become trolls spewing ridiculous conspiracy theories from unreliable sources and worst yet, they are HIDING behind their computer screens in anonymity! Thank you for standing up to the bullies who get their kicks by showing how ignorant they are by writing comments that reflect only their own biases!

Patricia Ireland-Williams

Kudos to the Courier for deciding to eliminate reader comments to news stories. Long overdue.

Paul Dunn

Great idea Courier about the “no more comments.” All I ever see there were the same nine or 10 people insulting each other all day, like second graders. Well done. Thanks.

Larry Bombard

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I stopped being a daily reader because of the comments section. While I didn’t HAVE to read comments, I really HAD too. Then I just got angry. Now I can read and not be so tempted to listen to the same five people argue ceaselessly.

Steve Hyman

Thank you for your recent change of eliminating user comments. I agree with your decision. The perception of our community for non-local readers is bound to go up!

Ken Froland

Excellent decision to terminate the comment section. A handful of cranky folks, a collection of pointless blathering. Very little of substantive information.

Dan Fallon

I write to applaud the decision to discontinue online comments in the Courier and other PNI papers. The sewer that has become social media is awash in the comments of a relatively small group of people whose only distinguishing characteristics are hyper inflated opinions of themselves, minimal rational ability, and ownership of a computer. I may disagree with the coverage and opinion in the paper, but at least I don’t have to wade through the nonsense offered by a handful of cretins every day.

Neal Mangham

The comments on the Prescott Daily Courier [website] contained “fighting words,” which are not protected by freedom of speech. The comments were filled with anger and hate. It was absolutely disgusting to read them. How did people get to be so bitter and greedy in this county? I found the comments rude and hurtful, with hate and unkindness, which make the world an ugly place. NO TOLERANCE! Thank you for discontinuing the practice of allowing anonymous comments.

With regards,

Dorota Thieme


Our readers speak . . . SAD THEY’RE GONE

Well. I see the Courier has finally achieved its goal of a reader-comment free newspaper. You seem to be not alone. A quick check on the web disclosed that many publications are doing away with their comments sections. They say it’s because of the lack of civility among the commenters. But we know better, don’t we?

The real reason is that the reporters of news are tired of having their slanted views challenged. No, I don’t think that the staff of the Courier are active liars. But when it comes to other organizations, such as the Associated Press, I know very well that they are. Trump won. Conservatives must be hushed; time to get on the band wagon...

Alan Whitney

Don’t you know that news stories can be slanted also? If just the facts were given I would agree with your policy change but that is not the case. We need other views to balance the news.

Nancy Wright

That’s just great. ALL AMERICAN news including paper, TV, scam mags fight for freedom of THEIR speech - ya you know as the 1st amendment rights. But NOW when WE the people want to voice our opinion it doesn’t matter any further, so you get to change OUR rights to fit your needs. It is ours and the news to speak our minds and for you to write and voice what you want, but now that has changed! NOW we have to accept it without any further input anymore because why? Maybe, just maybe, someone MIGHT get offended by what someone wrote (oh gosh) the news has never had that happen to them. You folks want to take our 1st amendment away from us, but then again like most newspapers and/or TV it’s all about you because maybe someone made a comment about one of your stories that you don’t agree with, and someone got their panties in a twist. However on the other hand we have to agree with everything you write about even if some information is incomplete or omitted. But then again many of your stories are for the most part incomplete, never finished, full of holes, or you never do any further investigations - but we HAVE to accept it, because why, you just took one of OUR rights away. So say goodbye to OUR 1st amendment rights again by some backwater newspaper that thinks they are better than us and know how to protect us from ourselves.

Ralph Baker

So you’re saying that you’re a biased reporting agency only allowing the views and opinions of your reporters and staff? So much for our 5th amendment. (sic)

Don Reeves

So because a few who hide behind fake names and Facebook profiles are causing you to stop those of us who use our names and real names not to give our opinions? Wonder who won and who lost here.

Charles Gliksson

Well the Courier has finally fully committed to crossing over to the “Dark Side,” shutting down public discussion of news and editorial publications. You see the media is in its corner licking its wounds from failing its intended duty to elect Democrats, Hillary specifically, because all those darned citizens were able to exchange ideas and facts that were not the DNC-Media Complex’s daily construct narrative. There are signs of the crumbling media all over the place such as the “fake news” articles recently outted in the Washington Post and the CNN-Buzzfeed fiasco.

All of the media are truly scared that they’ve lost the power to CREATE public opinion and therefore political policy and they believe THEY are entitled to do that. Print and broadcast media ignored the PEOPLE, their customers, for so long with an overall polled approval LOWER than congress that they cannot seem to “connect the dots” of what the “free press” intended duty is. They were never supposed to be owned and operated by a political entity such as the Democratic party. Their noble duty was OBJECTIVE journalism, holding ANYONES feet to the fire that dares cross the line on upholding the Constitution in a quest for central government tyranny. We for too long, have witnessed their failings in doing that. We will continue exchanging ideas and the FACTS of our Constitution without the MSM and they can continue down the road to financial ruin.

Thomas Gatchell

OK, you won’t let John Q public comment on what may be a totally biased article, then, at least, have an opposing point of view to go along with an article that could have one.

Philip Bagwell


RANTS and RAVES

  • Thank you for making this change. The comments section has rarely added anything useful in terms of real discussion about the articles.

  • No more readers’ comments??? Ah ha!!! PNI’s realization that often readers’ comments are more relevant than the articles/editorials themselves! Readership will decline.

  • This is a rave about the stopping of comments in your stories. Thank you, thank you! I wish all news websites would stop this as it would hinder some of the in fighting among the readers.

  • Thank you so very much for discontinuing your comment section. So refreshing to be able to read a news story without them.

  • Probably a good idea because some comments were hateful, hurtful, unsubstantiated and silly. Best regards to you and a great little newspaper.

  • I have found that the comments at the end of article to be interesting and varied, both for and against. Also being able to read comments about an article the same day, gives readers a direct reference back to the subject that the commenter agrees or disagrees with.

  • Sorry to see this. I really enjoyed seeing some of the comments from fellow readers whether I agreed with them or not. Not sure who the lemmings are who could be swayed easily by others’ comments or even the writer’s story or editorial for the matter.